Things Fall Apart

This morning, I picked up a little Buddha bracelet given to me by my friend Debs, intending to wear it. Without a snap, with no undue pressure, the bracelet fell apart. The little black beads fell to the floor.

Last week a beautiful jade bracelet, given to me by a student, did the same thing — in the same place in my bedroom, even — its twenty-one perfectly round stones cascading gently to my carpeted floor. There was no undue pressure; indeed, it had survived quite a rigorous teaching day and two journeys on the light rail. I had tugged on and off sweaters and jackets and boots and gloves and hats, and nothing had happened. Yet when I was home, ready to relax, the thread on which the beads were strung broke for no apparent reason.

A week or two before that, I was lecturing my Level 4 writers when they gasped en masse. Although my lectures are pretty good, I had never received a response quite like that, so I was a little surprised. I asked, “What’s wrong?” and they all pointed to my neck, and then the floor. I discovered that the (second) healing necklace Katrisa had made for me had come apart. Again, no pressure; no undue stress on it; in fact, I didn’t even feel it until my students pointed it out. The precious necklace had just fallen gently, irrevocably, apart. The students tried to rescue every tiny bead and larger semi-precious stone, but the necklace had fallen from a substantial height, and onto a multi-colored carpet.

I grieved over the loss of that necklace. I tried not to show any emotion in class, sharing that I must not need the necklace any more or I’d still have it; but I cried copiously later. It wasn’t just the necklace, of course. It was all that it represented. Katrisa and Kevin made it for me when I was healing from cancer in 2010, and every bead on it was made or chosen with my health in mind.

A lot of things seem to be falling apart in my life these days. In the wee hours of the morning, I heard a crash which I assumed to be my upstairs neighbor hurling yet another piece of furniture to the floor above my bed, a task he seems driven to do approximately every five days. I need to apologize to him (in my thoughts, at least), for I found out that my shower curtain rail was the culprit. When I went in this a.m., it had fallen, inexplicably, into the tub. (I wonder how many neighbors were woken in the process? Karma! Ha! But I digress.)

I’ve stood in various places in my apartment over the last few weeks, watching as a shelf tumbles from the wall; a clock falls from its perch; books fall from their shelves; and bags of recycling rip of their own accord. Is something special going on? Or is it just that I’ve slowed down enough to watch life happen? Is this what life is like for those of you who learned to savor life, not just race through it?

It’s quite fascinating, actually. As my waking life movements become more and more restricted, my dreams are more vivid and active. I can do all the things I used to do in real life, and more! Last night, Debs and I were in Phoenix; last week I was in Kuwait; and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited Portland and Ireland. A few weeks ago I was helping Leah and Than move to a new house in Utah! J.R. and Adrienne came for a visit, and Jules showed up, too. I’ve visited my buddies in DeKalb and LaCrosse, and even took a trip to France. I’ve been swimming, cycling, mountain climbing (no fear of heights in dreams — how great is that?!), and dancing. Oh, yes. Lots of dancing.

Of course, I wake up exhausted, but who cares? I’ve got a life back, even if it’s not quite the one I expected. In this world, the real one, I’m gently falling apart. I’m glad I’m doing it gracefully, like those beads from the jade bracelet, but I must admit that I feel a great sense of loss, all the same.

I think maybe the beauty of a thing, for me, was always the way its individual pieces were put together, not the pieces themselves. Perhaps it’s time for me to notice, as things fall apart, the loveliness of those individual, precious parts.

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